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View Full Version : Is MSG actually a mixture of salty + umami?



Insight
01-15-2010, 08:02 PM
Just something I've been thinking about. MSG dissolves in water to sodium cations and glutamate anions... It is the free glutamate that is responsible for the "umami" taste that everyone seems to love these days.

However, as umami receptors in the tongue respond to free glutamate ions, so do "saltiness" receptors in the tongue respond to free sodium ions.

So is it that MSG's function isn't really to just add "umami" to a food, but saltiness as well?

No comments here on how MSG is evil and causes cancer or what not, this is a strictly scientific question!

BookMonkey
01-15-2010, 08:07 PM
They did an Iron Chef Battle about Umami.

-_-

dat
01-15-2010, 08:11 PM
Yep:

glutamate and similar molecules = umami
sodium and similar alkali metal ions = salty

Insight
01-15-2010, 08:19 PM
They did an Iron Chef Battle about Umami.

-_-

lol wut?

Insight
01-15-2010, 08:20 PM
Yep:

glutamate and similar molecules = umami
sodium and similar alkali metal ions = salty

Except if you've ever tasted potassium chloride... it tastes like licking the green **** of the bottom of a boat

But ok, so the question is, is there any chemical out there that is just "umami" by itself? What could you bind to glutamate that wouldn't impart any flavor of its own? Cellulose glutamate? hmmm

dat
01-15-2010, 08:33 PM
Glutamic acid.

zhouaznbrass
01-15-2010, 08:40 PM
umami is perceived differently by each person isnt it? if i think one food has umami, another might disagree

Insight
01-15-2010, 08:54 PM
Glutamic acid.

I thought that umami receptors only responded to glutamate ions, not actual glutamic acid

dat
01-15-2010, 09:03 PM
Glutamic acid will readily dissociate into glutamate in water/saliva/whatever.

Insight
01-15-2010, 09:16 PM
Have you tasted glutamic acid and can confirm that it tastes "umami"? Because from looking at http://www.google.com/products?q=glutamic+acid&hl=en&aq=f, I'm finding what looks more like protein supplements. I would be surprised if people mixed powdered L-glutamic acid into their water every day and drank it without realizing that they've hitten upon a mysterious 5th flavor

dat
01-15-2010, 09:42 PM
L-glutamic acid could be a differently shaped molecule (isomer) than "plain old" glutamic acid... I dunno how taste receptors work but that could be it.

Insight
01-15-2010, 09:58 PM
L-glutamic acid could be a differently shaped molecule (isomer) than "plain old" glutamic acid... I dunno how taste receptors work but that could be it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutamic_acid_%28flavor%29#Isomers

Only the L-Glutamic acid isomer has the "umami" taste.

I also just saw another site a little bit ago that said that MSG is said to have a "salty" taste at high concentrations. So perhaps the glutamate receptors are much more sensitive than the sodium receptors, and so it is only a "little bit" salty when compared to the umami of the glutamate.

Either way I'm about to buy some MSG and start screwing with ridiculous taste combinations

BookMonkey
01-16-2010, 05:40 AM
I always felt this "addition" of salty flavor was due to the fact that most times MSG is used is in foods that only taste good when salty (ie. soup stocks, packaged snack items, sauces, etc).

But then again, I also feel like Umami is an overmarketed term that basically has no meaning outside the culinary world, not the nurtition world.